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Friday, June 7, 2013

Who Were the Samaritans of the "West Bank?"

Nablus, 2007 in the shuk and its candy display
Whatever Happened to Israel=Kingdom of Samaria?
Nadene Goldfoot
We know that the West Bank is really the ancient site of Judea and Samaria.  What were they?
Israel was the first and only state created by King Saul in the 11th century BCE, and after him governed by King David and then his son, King Solomon.

The empire of Judah split off from the empire of Israel and was the southerly of the two kingdoms in 933 BCE. after the death of King Solomon.  It was made up of the tribe of Judah, most of Benjamin and it is thought to also had absorbed the tribe of Simeon which was isolated in the extreme south.  Judah was the poor state as they had no access to the sea which was the trade route.  It never got involved with international problems and people there led a more tranquil life.  It included the city of Jerusalem and the Temple, so preserved Mosaic monotheism in a purer form.

Israel, the northern state,  was sometimes called the kingdom of Samaria after the city which became its capital in about 890 BCE.  The tribes left there were from Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun, Naphtali, Asser, Dan, and living in what is now known as Transjordan were the tribes of Reuben, Gad and part of Manasseh.  Israel was much larger than Judah.  In its 210 years it had 19 kings of 9 dynasties.  10 died in violence and 7 ruled for less than 2 years.

When Israel and Judah separated, the ancient city of Shechem, today renamed Nablus,  which was connected to Israel, became the religious center of the Northern Kingdom.  The political capital was transferred by King Omri to his newly built city of Samaria about 883 BCE.  The Israelite kingdom continued to exist until it fell before Assyria.

Samaria, the former Israel and also the city,  was attacked by the Assyrians in 722 BCE.  The King of Assyria, Shalmaneser besieged it and at the end of 3 years they were able to take it. He died one year before it was taken in 723, so the city actually fell to Sargon who carried away 27,290 people.  The people taken away were the more prominent and dangerous, the rich, the priests, and the ruling class.   The people were deported to various parts of Assyria and to the cities of the Medes.  Colonists were sent to take their place.  The colonists were soon troubled by lions in the district which they thought were divine visitations due to their ignorance of the manner of the god of the land.  They sent for an Israelite priest and settled at Beth-el, with the result that a mixed form of religion was established, partly Israeli (Jewish) and partly idolatrous brought in by the colonists.  In 720 Syria again united against the common enemy and a fresh campaign began.  The political existence of Samaria came to an end.  Only Hosea and Amos, biblical prophets, worked in the Northern kingdom of Samaria.  Elijah and Elisha tried to check idolatry and social injustice when they saw it.

Today, the name only refers to a small group of people living in Nablus (Shechem) and they called themselves “Bene Ysirael” or “Shomreem.”  The people of Samaria were thought of as the remnant of Israel.

A man named Josiah kept the people away from high places and collected money to repair the Temple from the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim and of the remnant of Israel.  Later, their claim to participate in the building of the Temple was rejected by Zerubbabel because of their mixed origin.

Sargon sent colonists to Samaria from many cities of Babylonia as a precautionary measure.  There happened to be 3 importations of foreigners by Sargon, Esar-haddon, and by Assurbanipal.  They occupied the site of the defunet kingdom of Israel, then called Samaritan, consisting of the poorer Israelites and other aliens ruled over by an Assyrian governor.  It was deprived of its priestly caste so had to ask for the services of a priest.

Samaria later found itself governed by a Persian strap.  It became the natural refuge for all who were dissatisfied with the reforms taking place in Jerusalem.  The priest, Manasseh, was a malcontent.  the governor of Samaria under Darius was Sanballat.  His daughter was married to Manasseh, the son of the high priest at Jerusalem.  Because he had married a foreigner, Manasseh was expelled by Nehemiah and so settled in Samaria in about 430 BCE.  It must have been Manasseh who fixed the Israelite character of the Samaritan's religion.

A century later in 332 BCE, Alexander the Great gave permission to build a Temple on the holy hill of Gerizim, near Shechem.  This became the center of Samaritan worship.  The Temple was in existence for about 200 years when it was destroyed.  Samaria was then occupied by John Hyrcanus.  Mt. Gerizim was sacred to the Samaritans because the idols of Laban were buried there.  The Samaritans used to light beacon-fires to deceive the Jews as to the appearance of the new moon.  Usually they sided against the Jews and with their enemies.  The country passed into the hands of the Romans around 135 BCE and Samaria was rebuilt and embellished by Herod.  His wife, Mariamne was a Samaritan.  The city of Shechem was occupied by the Romans, who called it Flavia Neapolis, where the name of Nablus comes from.

Judea of the south, the newer state, and Samaria , the older state, in reality, Israel of the north, were the Jewish homeland.  This is where Jacob's 12 sons, who created the 12 tribes of Israel had lived.  This is where Moses had led the 600,000  Jews on the exodus.  This is what the Arabs are depriving us of, our own homeland in their zeal to create their  Palestine that they have talked about for the past 65 years. Israel or Samaria had Shechem/Nablus and Judea had Jerusalem as their religious centers.  The Samaritans were not considered true Jews as they had created such a mixed religion.

Http:///.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=110&letter=S     From 2009
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia

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